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'It rips out a part of your heart': Mother of Donegal man left to die in New York speaks out

Two men urinated on Liam McGlinchey, who was suffering from alcohol poisoning, before leaving him to die.

File photo
File photo

THE MOTHER OF a Donegal man who was left to die by two men while out socialising in New York has said the tragedy has torn their family apart.

Liam McGlinchey, from Buncrana, died in August 2017 after a night out celebrating his exam results. He was 19 years old.

Last week two men were jailed for their part in his death.

Liam had moved from Buncrana to the US to study and was living with his grandmother in Clifton Park at the time of his death. She discovered his body in her front garden the next morning.

Samuel Heroux and Isaiah DePiazza urinated on Liam, who was suffering from alcohol poisoning, before leaving him to die.

Liam’s mother Helen Savastio travelled to New York to be at last week’s sentencing hearing.

Speaking to Miriam O’Callaghan on RTÉ Radio 1 today, she said she wanted to meet the two men and tell them about her son.

“I wanted them to know who Liam was, who the person was that they left under the tree, and what an impact it had on our family,” she explained.

Helen said the impact of Liam’s death is “hard to explain”, describing hearing the news as “the phone call you never want to get”.

It tears your family apart because it rips a part of your heart out and it rips a part out of the heart of every family member, every time you’re together there is just a piece missing … so you have to go the rest of your life living with part of your heart missing.

Helen said Liam’s 93-year-old grandmother is traumatised since finding his body, stating: “I’d say she’s suffering from PTSD, I mean she doesn’t really like to think about it. When she hears Liam’s name mentioned, she gets teary-eyed.”

Filmed the urination  

Heroux (21) and DePiazza (19) were charged with criminally negligent homicide. Heroux was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation. DePiazza was jailed for one to three years after previously breaking his parole conditions.

Helen said the men could have saved Liam’s life but didn’t try to help him or call emergency services.

They didn’t just dump him and leave him there, they also came back a second time to find him still unconscious under the tree, they found foam starting to come out of his mouth, they still didn’t do anything that time either. During one of the times, they had taken the time to urinate on him, that’s all we know.

It’s understood that the men filmed themselves urinating on Liam and uploaded the footage on social media.

Helen said she wanted to speak out to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol poisoning, urging people to not drink excessively and to look out for warning signs such as confusion, vomiting, seizures or an irregular heartbeat. 

She said people can incorrectly assume that an individual is “sleeping it off” when they are in fact unconscious. She called on people to try to wake their friends up in such a scenario and get help if they suspect something is wrong.

Helen plans to return to Buncrana on 23 August, two days before the second anniversary of Liam’s death.

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Órla Ryan

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